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Government Funding
Should taxpayer money go to museums? Most culture-workers say "YES and more of it." But there's an ethical question here too. If museums primarily serve a wealthy, educated subset of the population, is it appropriate for them to get public support? Upvote if you'd take the subsidy; downvote if it's unethical.
Lending out Objects and Exhibitions
Ship the objects to another museum. Get some cash. Get the objects seen in another city. Win-win, right? Not if you are concerned about the stewardship of delicate artifacts, which can be damaged when traveling or being bombarded in a blockbuster show. Not if you are concerned about your local community missing their favorite pieces. Upvote if you think lending objects is a form of sharing; downvote if it's artifact pimping.
Facility Rentals for Private Parties
Someone wants to have a wedding/fashion show/product launch in your museum. Is their cash worth the potential harm to exhibitions, artifacts, and reputation? If your institution is perceived as a place for rich people's parties, is that an issue--or a brilliant way to monetize the off-hours? Upvote if you think renting's swell; downvote if it's unethical.
Fundraising Galas
Tis the season to wear black tie, get blitzed, and raise the paddle for... what's the name of this museum again? If revelers are having fun but know/care little about your mission, is the glitter worth it? Upvote if you love to party; downvote if it's unethical.
Paid Admission, Paid Membership
Charging admission enables many people to own the museum experience. But it also makes museums "pay to play." It creates a means test for everyone who walks in the door. Same goes for membership--distributed ownership, at a price. Is free admission more moral? Upvote if admission is a-ok, downvote if it's unethical.
Grants from Activist Foundations
Foundations are often explicitly, unapologetically activist. They push their agendas. Creative placemaking. Diversity. Scholarship. If you want their money, you must share their ideals (or at least pretend to). Is it ethical to embrace a little mission creep for a big old pot of cash? Upvote if you'd take the grant; downvote if it's unethical.
Big Money Individual Donors... with Requests
If someone wants to give you a million dollars, they usually want something for it. A board seat. Influence on exhibits. Their prized collection on the wall. Even if they say they want nothing, you tend to become more attentive to them than to other community members. How big a problem is it when lead donors and trustees sway museums away from focusing on the community at large? Upvote to take the cash; downvote if it's unethical.
Sponsorships from Corporations with Agendas
When the London Science Museum took cash from BP (British Petroleum), they got very public pressure to end their relationship. Some businesses are shady because their work is in conflict with institutional missions. Some have lousy business practices or labor treatment. And almost all require their name emblazoned on gallery walls. Is the money worth it? Upvote if you'd take the check; downvote if it's unethical.

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